Holidays are about spending quality time with family and friends, looking forward to time off from work, reflecting on accomplishments, and setting new goals for the New Year. The holidays are also a time where predators prey on the vulnerable. To avoid becoming a potential victim, here are a few tips to help you keep your family safe during the holiday season:

  • According to Crime Watch Montgomery County, most robberies and petty crimes happen in the evening hours when it gets dark. Try to get your shopping done during the day time hours and avoid getting money from ATM’s at night as well. If you use a drive thru ATM, be aware of your surroundings and make sure your doors are locked.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and utilize “Situational Awareness[1]”. Try not to hold expensive items in your hand like your phone so you will not be tempted to gaze at the latest text message or other social platform (Facebook, Instagram, etc.). When you’re out and about, put away your phone and pay attention to what’s happening around you. Look at each and every person and determine if they’re a potential threat. Look at their faces, their body language, and their dress. Follow your gut. Paying attention to your surroundings can alert you to potential threats before a conflict occurs and give you a few precious seconds to respond or get away.
  • Be aware of where you park your car and dark or dimly lit parking lots. Most stores and major malls have security guards. Utilize them and ask for an escort to your car.
  • Ladies, if you must carry a purse, it’s a good idea to put non-essential items in it. Keep your wallet, driver license and credit cards on your person. If someone dares to snatch it – let them.
  • In 2017, the Today Show interviewed David Solano, who is currently serving time for robbery and estimates he’s mugged more than 100 people. He said that when he was casing out a potential victim, he looked to see if they were wearing a watch, and if they were, he would asked them for the time or, he would stop someone and ask for directions. The moment they looked down at their watch or started to think about directions, Solano would grab their wrist and twist their arm behind their back. Once he was in control, he’d grab their purse or wallet.
  • Don’t allow yourself to become distracted by other people. If someone asks you for the time, ignore them or keep walking. Don’t break your stride. It might not be the most courteous thing to do, but it could help you avoid being robbed. If someone asks you for directions and you want to help, maintain your distance while speaking with them.

Lastly, don’t look like a victim. Solano admitted he would target anyone he felt was “weak”.

Project an image of strength by using body language:

  • Keep your head up
  • Look people in their eyes
  • Walk with a purpose. Even if you’re lost don’t look timid

Be safe and have a wonderful holiday season!

[1] Situational awareness or situation awareness (SA) is the perception of environmental elements and events with respect to time or space.